Review by TownRanger
"The BEST racing game ever! A whole lot better than the "new" ones."
I first bought the game in the year 2000 but have not finished it because of my study and my computer breakdown. Last week I was tidying up my room. My hands quivered when I saw this old Need for Speed: High Stakes disc. Needless to say I searched on the Internet overnight for a patch to run the game on Windows XP. I did it and now I am here to review this very best game! I am writing this NFSHS review in 2006 (updated 2008); 7 years after the game is first published but I still think this game rubs off on many other racing games in recent years.
Racing games back in the 90's usually do not have a story. Experience tells us that racing games that rock usually do not have a story, or it is another round in that a story does not fit in a racing atmosphere. No, this game does not have a story. You start off the career play with a creation of your profile and with a guy with a helmet. Your profile name appears on the plate, and does not have fanciful customizations like choosing your hero's face, birthday, etc. Those things are unsuitable so they are all left out. Type a name to identify yourself, and just start for the pure sake of racing. Drive!
There is this career play which worths to play through. You will start off with a bit of in-game money enough of buying either one of the two Class B cars. You will have to complete courses to win trophy races with a gold medal as the award before you can proceed to the next set of trophy races. You'll need to collect money to fix the damages made by you on your car and to buy upgrades. Once you get enough cash, you can upgrade or buy higher tier cars. There is no need to wait until a certain point is reached to unlock things. Fair enough, cash is what it counts for. Some races have class restrictions so that you do need to, at some point, buy better cars and not allowed to exploit the use of a Class AAA cars to dominate.
You may not always have to be the first to cross the finish line to win the trophies. There are knockout races which you can proceed if you are not the final one to finish. There are also endurance races in that the altogether 8 laps in a row can overwhelm your car with damages that affect your car's performance. Also, pink slip is out there! Risk your car and win his!
Sounds simple but could it be a bit boring? No, it is not boring. There is a lot more than these repetitive races. On the same track sometimes you will have to race it in a reversed or mirrored direction. Some tracks have forks which are blocked, and when they open, you will encounter a completely different life there.
As for a game in 1999, the graphics of the tracks are very well rendered without the need for a 3D graphics card. The atmosphere of each tracks is quite good ranging from peaceful European towns and vegetation-covered countryside to mysterious tropical deserts and sentimental historical sites like the ruined city and the Atlantica.
Apart from the tracks, Need for Speed High Stakes also has a weather. Rain and snow outhandles your car easily. And so you have to drive with great care not to spin out or understeer. Keep alert, and we need your steady nerve!
Let us talk about the cars. As you can learn from the very first beginning of your career play, NFSHS features mid-tier and top-tire exotic European sports cars. Each car handles differently, sounds differently, and has an interior view that looks real. The dashboard lights up when you have the lights on, which is a fan requested feature added. For all the cars, we just need to first off pick a color and GO! We can get the upgrades in which the appearance changes a little on the vinyls of the car, and the performance is what counts. There are no fanciful eye-catching neons, customisations of vinyls or bumpers, or any other jargonic "ricer" upgrades (No offence). Again, Drive!
You can sound the horn and train your ears--train yourself to identify the car by judging the horn! All those things make the cars very realistic. That is also the reason I choose to drive in the first person view.
In memory of NFSHS, I would rate this game a 10/10. This is the BEST racing game ever in 1999; this is the BEST racing game ever by EA; this is the BEST racing game ever on the PC platform; this is the BEST racing game ever you cannot miss it! Well at least Need for Speed High Stakes is one of the BEST racing games in the world that stands alone against timewash. If not, why would there be that many online players still having fun with NFSHS after EA has shut down its NFSHS server? Why would there still be discussion on the Internet about how to patch and run NFSHS on Windows Vista?
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/03/06, Updated 10/28/08
Game Release: Need for Speed: High Stakes (US, 09/29/99)
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